The Year of Secret Assignments by Jaclyn Moriarty

I’ve been hearing a lot of good things about Jaclyn Moriarty lately. I think I first heard about her when Michelle of See Michelle Read reviewed The Ghosts of Ashbury High. Ever since then, Michelle has been trying to convince me to read at least one of Jaclyn Moriarty’s books. Also, I saw that Ana of The Book Smugglers raved about all of Jaclyn Moriarty’s books in this post. The last time Ana did this was when she found out about MWT’s Queen’s Thief series and you all know how much I love that series. I wanted to read The Ghosts of Ashbury High but it’s not available here. Thankfully, The Year of Secret Assignments (published as Finding Cassie Crazy in Australia) is available in Fully Booked for P378. Yay for awesome local bookstores!

Here’s the summary from Jaclyn Moriarty’s website:

When Lydia, Emily, and Cassie are assigned pen pals among the thugs at Brookfield High, they respond in characteristic style:

Cassie: “I always think it’s funny when a teacher tries to be cool. I want to sit them down and say ‘It’s okay, you’re a grown-up, you’re allowed to be a nerd,’ and they will look up at me confused but also relieved and teary-eyed.”

Lydia: “I am a fish. You wouldn’t think so to look at me, what with my uniform and the hair on top of my head and all that. But it’s true. I am a fish.”

Emily: “Don’t get me started about chocolate! My nickname might be ‘Em,’ but sometimes it’s also Toblerone! I think this is an angiogram of Thompson, which is my last name.”

And their pen-pals? Sebastian is an artist, a black belt in Tae Kwan Do, and a major hottie. Charlie is utterly gullible, a car expert/occasional thief, and a really sweet guy. But Matthew is… well, he’s either a psychopath or a figment of Cassie’s imagination, neither of which is a good sign. And what starts out as a simple letter exchange leads to secret assignments, false alarms, lock picking, legal drama, mistaken identities, Dates with Girls, and all-out war between the schools… the biggest challenge Lydia, Cass, and Emily’s friendship has ever faced.

I think this is the second book in Jaclyn Moriarty’s series and I was worried that I’ll be lost because I haven’t read the first one but it seems like they’re all just loosely connected and you can start with any of her books. The Year of Secret Assignments is written in a variety of formats, it’s like a scrapbook of sorts. The story unfolds through notebook and diary entries and the exchanged letters of three Ashbury students and three Brookefield students. At first, it was a bit confusing because you have to deal with so many points of view but I didn’t mind because there were a lot of hilarious moments even early on. Plus, I love writing and receiving letters. When we were in high school, my friends and I exchanged letters all the time. I don’t even know why we did that because we could have just talked in person. I still have most of those letters in shoe boxes stored in one of my cabinets.

This book was a lot of fun to read! The characters were so quirky, each crazy in his or her own way and I loved them. In Mr. Botherit’s intention to resurrect “The Joy of the Envelope,” these characters’ personalities shine forth through their letters. I must say that Cassie is my favorite character in this one because although she’s not as exuberant as Emily or Lydia, her personality is just as distinct. She’s funny in her own subtle way. There’s a bit of romance it this book but overall, I think it’s refreshing to read a YA book that’s more about friendship than anything else – the kind of friendship that starts in primary school and would probably last for a lifetime and those unexpected ones that bloom through letter-writing, secret assignments, tutorials about how to date girls and whatnot. Cass, Em and Lyd are so very different from each other but they are steadfast and loyal when it comes to helping out one another.

If you’re interested in something light and funny with a dash of insanity thrown in for good measure, then I recommend this book. I was laughing out loud in several sections of this book and I can’t wait to read Jaclyn Moriarty’s other books. I’m especially curious about Bindy because of her incredible typing skills. She has only one scene in the book but I think that’s one of my favorites.

Other reviews: (manually generated)
See Michelle Read
The Book Smugglers
Where the Moon Shines
Not Enough Bookshelves
In Which a Girl Reads

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22 thoughts on “The Year of Secret Assignments by Jaclyn Moriarty

    • Wow, glad you were able to find this in the bargain bin! That’s a lucky find. It’s hilarious, isn’t it? Hope you find Jaclyn Moriarty’s other books soon! I have a feeling all of them are this funny.

      • Yes it is hilarious! Btw, thanks for linking to my review (where the moon shines) 🙂

        I had to pass the book along to my niece because I wanted to share the fun, haha, and now I’m reminded to chat her up about it.

      • No problem! I just started linking other reviews at the end of my posts and I think I found your review through Google.

        I hope your niece enjoys reading this book too. 🙂

  1. I’ve been looking at Jaclyn Moriarty books in Fully Booked ever since I saw that Book Smugglers review. I really don’t have to be OC and read them in order, huh? Okay, I’ll add that to my to-buy soon as I manage to whittle down my TBR (haha right 😛 ).

    • Are they available in other Fully Booked branches? This one was from the Fort branch. Yes, no need to read the books in order because they all have different characters from the same school.

      Haha how many books are there in your TBR pile? I’m only going to buy used books or books that aren’t available in ebook format while waiting for my Kindle. I hope that lessens the number of books in my TBR.

      • I found a couple in Fully Booked Gateway — I wanted to get them then but I was already over budget. 🙂

        Right now? I think I have 50? It’s not as many as you have. I don’t have the urge to buy anything new now, thank God. Having the Kindle makes it tempting to buy, though…so good luck when you get yours. 😀

      • LOL I don’t even have a budget for book purchases because I know I’ll just go over. Although now, I’m trying to not buy books until I’ve worked on my TBR.

        I hope I can bring down my TBR to 50! Or at least double digits. I don’t have the urge to buy anything new right now either, not unless my special order books get here. Really? I was thinking that maybe I wouldn’t buy so much because I’d know that the ebook will be available whenever I want it. 🙂 I will try to buy ebooks only when I have time to read them.

    • I’m currently in the middle of Feeling Sorry for Celia and yes, it’s a lot of fun as well. 🙂 I’m hoping to finish it within the week so I can post a review.

  2. Pingback: The Year of Secret Assignments by Jaclyn Moriarty « Chachic's Book Nook

  3. Oh I am so very happy and pleased and thrilled to know that you liked this one!! Made my day!

    I just love all three of these girls – and I love how it really is about lasting friendships. Such a refreshing storyline for a YA novel. Not often do you see the romance as a secondary storyline as it does here.

    And now I am all anxious for you to read some of her other ones. I still haven’t tracked down a copy of BINDY (yet) and I too am intrigued. But I am so excited to hear you liked Cassie and Emily and Lydia – and the ‘scrapbook’ type format. Such a winner!

    • I know how much you love Jaclyn Moriarty’s books so I gladly gave it a try based on your recommendation. 🙂

      Yes, this one is really more about friendship than romance, right? All three of them love each other to bits. They can’t stand the idea of not being able to help a friend.

      I’m currently in the middle of Feeling Sorry of Celia and I’m liking it as well! I’m planning to finish it within the week so I can post a review.

  4. Cassie was my favorite character in GHOSTS OF ASHBURY HIGH, so I’m glad you liked her. I’m also interested in knowing more about Bindy. The few mentions of her in GHOSTS had me intrigued.

    I too have a box of hand-written and typed letters from high school. They’re mostly from a certain boy but I may have kept some of the ones from my girlfriends, written in pink or purple pen and folded in all kinds of clever ways. I’m a sentimental pack rat at heart. 🙂

    • Oooh Cassie and the others are back in Ghosts of Ashbury High? I finished Feeling Sorry for Celia last night and Cassie, Lydia and Emily weren’t it. I hope they make an appearance in Bindy’s book.

      Yes, written in all sorts of colorful pens and folded in ways that I don’t even know how to do know. Also written in stationery with girly designs. I’m a sentimental pack rat too. 🙂

  5. Pingback: Feeling Sorry for Celia by Jaclyn Moriarty « Chachic's Book Nook

  6. I love Jaclyn Moriarty’s books like you wouldn’t believe! They’re so funny, so relatable, and just plain fun to read.

    What I love so much about her books is that you don’t have to read them in order– I’m glad you still read this before Feeling Sorry of Celia (can’t wait to read your review! It’s sooo good) since they’re kind of sequel-ish but can still stand alone. Though BINDY is my favorite, and DREAMING OF AMELIA is pretty good too. The way the friendship is more prominent than the romance is also wonderful, like you said. I can’t wait to see what she writes next!

    • They really are fun to read! I’ve already posted my review of Feeling Sorry for Celia here. I started to read Bindy and I was a couple of chapters in but I put it on hold because I got some books that I’ve been waiting to get for sometime. I’ll get back to it soon! Bindy is funny in a peculiar way. Ghosts of Ashbury High isn’t available here now but I hope it will be soon!

  7. Pingback: The Murder of Bindy Mackenzie by Jaclyn Moriarty « Chachic's Book Nook

  8. Pingback: Friendship in Fiction « Chachic's Book Nook

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